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A's get first look at Cuban slugger

PHOENIX — After watching the YouTube promotional video of the five-tool outfielder with a sculpted body and freakish athleticism, the Athletics were eager to see Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes up close.

"He's finally here," catcher Kurt Suzuki said. "We hear about the potential and the tools and all that stuff. I'm not just excited to see him hit but excited to see him working out with the team."

Cespedes certainly didn't disappoint.

The 26-year-old Cespedes (Yo-EHN-ess SES-peh-des) worked out with the Athletics for the first time Sunday. The slugging outfielder performed some agility drills to measure his vertical leap and took batting practice with Manny Ramirez and Cedric Hunter during a highly anticipated session in which he sprayed pitches to all fields and sent a couple of souvenirs over the walls.

He then shagged flies with Ramirez and signed autographs for fans on a day where there wasn't a spring training game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, just a spectacle.

"I'm very happy to be here because I feel I'm very close to my dream to play in the big leagues," said Cespedes, who played in Cuba's top league for eight seasons before defecting in 2011 to the Dominican Republic with his mother, an aunt and four cousins.

He'll take batting practice and focus on defensive drills over the next week or so as he tries to get up to speed with his teammates who have been here for two weeks.

"I'll be ready in five or six days," he said.

AILING METS: Mets first baseman Ike Davis said he's ready to play despite being diagnosed with valley fever. Third baseman David Wright, meanwhile, will sit for a bit.

Wright has been slowed by soreness around his left ribcage. Scratched from an intrasquad game Saturday, the All-Star was told by manager Terry Collins he wouldn't play tonight or Tuesday when the Mets start the exhibition schedule.

"If this was opening day, I'd be playing 100 percent," Wright said.

Davis said he felt fine. Valley fever is a fungal infection that is released from the dirt in desert regions of the Southwest and can cause extreme fatigue. Davis lives in Arizona in the offseason.

BRAUN TEST: The players' association believes the leak of NL MVP Ryan Braun's drug test was an isolated occurrence. Speaking at the Brewers' training camp in Phoenix, union head Michael Weiner said "the leak was specific to this case" and "does not threaten the confidentiality of the program." Braun, in his first game of the spring, struck out in his only two at-bats. In other Brewers news, rightfielder Corey Hart will have surgery on his right knee to repair a meniscus tear and likely will start the season on the disabled list.

PITCHER ARRESTED: Rockies right-hander Alex White apologized to his teammates after being briefly jailed following an arrest Saturday on suspicion of drunken driving. White, 23, is expected to compete for a rotation spot.

BRAVES: Right-hander Julio Teheran, competing for a rotation spot, allowed six home runs in two innings in an 18-3 loss to the Tigers.

NATIONALS: Right-hander Stephen Strasburg, expected to reclaim his role as ace after returning late last season from elbow ligament replacement surgery, struck out three but gave up two runs while pitching into the third against the Astros in his spring debut.

TWINS: Oft-injured reliever Joel Zumaya told the team he'll have reconstructive surgery on his right elbow. He'll need a year to recover.

A's get first look at Cuban slugger 03/04/12 [Last modified: Sunday, March 4, 2012 9:35pm]
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